In her November 21, 1944 My Day column Mrs. Roosevelt responded to people who said that the President did not keep his promise to keep our soldiers out of foreign wars: I have had a number of letters in the course of the last few days, some of them stating that I was wrong when I said in a recent column that the President did not promise, in the campaign of 1940, that our boys should not leave these shores. In other letters, the writers stated that they have read articles in the newspapers which said that I was wrong, and they wished to assure me they had heard the President qualify this statement over the radio, by the words: “Except in the case of attack.”
Therefore, in order to clear this situation up, I have decided to give the whole thing in chronological order.
1. “The Democratic platform adopted in Chicago, in 1940, stated: “We will not participate in foreign wars, and we will not send our army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas, except in case of attack.”
2.”On September 11, 1940, in Washington, D.C., the President said: “I hate war, now more than ever. I have one supreme determination—to do all that I can to keep war away from these shores for all time. I stand, with my party, and outside of my party as President of all the people, on the platform, the wording that was adopted in Chicago less than two months ago. It said: ‘We will not participate in foreign wars, and we will not send our army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas, except in case of attack.'”
3. “On October 23, 1940, in Philadelphia, the President again said: “We are arming ourselves not for any foreign war. We are arming ourselves not for any purpose of conquest or intervention in foreign disputes. I repeat again that I stand on the platform of our party: ‘We will not send our army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas, except in case of attack.'”
4. “On October 30, 1940, in Boston, Mass., the President said: “And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars. They are going into training to form a force so strong that, by its very existence, it will keep the threat of war far away from our shores. The purpose of our defense is defense.”
It is this last speech which probably created a false impression, and yet everyone of us knows quite well that once the bombs dropped on our soil at Pearl Harbor, the war was no longer a foreign war, but was a war in defense of our own country. Had we not fought on distant shores, we would soon have fought on the shores of the United States.